It’s May 26th and I will be playing Buzzcocks records all night and watching a concert video. I was planning to do so anyway, only it won’t be the warm-up for the concert I’d been waiting months for. All the music venues are shut, and tours have been canceled. Artists are in dire straights, those that don’t have a large music catalog and savings, have had to go online to communicate with each other and fans. And many music venues may be shut permanently. Portland the music town is in danger.
The arts are suffering and many governments will not take the entertainment industry seriously. It’s a serious revenue and tax base for local governments, however bailouts won’t happen for small venues, some may not get the SBA Pandemic relief loans either. Venues pay taxes, artists pay taxes. Along with the film industry, music revenues are suffering massive losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic shut down. What is as a whole huge money-driven industry of sound, has come to a grinding halt on the promotion scene live. Everything has gone online broadcast, with some members of bands doing Zoom concerts. Online sales have gone up for digital and vinyl. The industry is adjusting, however, the classic music magazine is struggling, as the print industry was already starting to collapse, and many had shifted to online presence, however, with live shows not playing to physical audiences, the landscape has changed and adapted.
Steve has assured me that they hope to come back, let’s hope there’s a venue for them to play in.
Same thing going on in your town? Check out Change.org and other artist fundraising platforms. Help them pay rent.
It’s a ZINE! That’s right, it’s that old skool tangible article of articles and poetry, art, and expression with that old DIY feel. Just perfect in these pandemic times, something to grab on to, and swap with others, you know, put in their hands. And now there’s a YouTube channel to help us get through these trying times because unfortunately printing presses are shut down for a time.
I’ve been having a blast with the Twitter account and reading through a hard copy Zine again, an actual papery thing, with several old skool/new skool publications. Remember paper. It’s really important to have that tangible, portable thing when the mass media digital world just gets to be too much. Razur Cuts is the brainchild or obsession of Derek Steel, who tirelessly finds original work and chases down interviews. Derek hails from Falkirk in Scotland. He’s kindly agreed to talk to us about his adventures in supporting music and poetry in the pages of this fun music and arts magazine.
Derek Steel WRITER/ARTIST/DIY FIEND
What possessed you to “I gotta make this Zine about_______!” come about?
I had the idea to begin a magazine after a writer friend read his short stories at a gig in London. This was an event by a magazine called PUSH. After that event, I was confident the idea would work in our own town of Falkirk, but also hoping it would reach out to other places as well. In my humble opinion, Razur Cuts was a breath of fresh air and it has certainly gained interest and a good following of people. Twitter was the ideal tool for that aforementioned reaching out platform. It’s worked so well!
How do we get a copy of Razur Cuts and what’s the Facebook address?
We are available to purchase thru PayPal to email: email@example.com
** I sort out postage depending on where the purchaser lives.
You have a great digital presence and a great following, what made you want to do an old skool ‘Zine?
The old Zine was because of the days of Punk Rock, when all fanzines were in paper hard copy form – there was no internet in the old days. Razur Cuts on hard copy was the only way I’d have issued it. You can feel it, smell it, put it down, pick it up and pass it on. Like a vinyl record, it feels much more personal and it’s what I grew up with.
What are some future projects you may be developing?
Future Projects; This sounds terribly hypocritical, LOL, but because of Covid-19, we have set up a YouTube Channel and are doing gigs by collating material from artists either in the writing or musical game. We’ll probably continue this as it’s been well received by the viewers. It’s like a visual version of the magazine as the printers are obviously now in lockdown. I have close friends involved in RC also and we’ve put on some live gigs and we hope to keep this going. Lately, I’ve been involved with a band called Vulture Party and being part of the release of their first album. Especially on the vinyl side of things. The album is self-titled and is selling very well. So, now, RC is a corporate marketing tool HaHaHa– if that’s the correct terminology!
What has been your greatest challenge in keeping your ‘Zine full of great content?
Our greatest challenge would be continually searching for new writers/ bands/ artists of any persuasion to submit for an issue – this is an ongoing process which is the most challenging. The ethos of RC is to give everyone a chance to shine, so we need to be on top of our game – everyone knows the ethos of RC and we try to have no repetition of an artist in back to back issues.
Have you met any of your music heroes as a result of your publishing?
Yes, I’ve met JJ Burnel of The Stranglers, John Robb of The Membranes who runs the mother of all magazines – Louder Than War. It’s always a pleasure to interview these people as you then realise, they’re as grounded as anyone else you know. They love to chat and exchange the odd email about any subject. I’ve met and interviewed John Duncan, Martin Metcalfe, Paul Research and a few others. Paul’s interview was a very special one, as it was exactly 40 years to the week I saw him play with Scars. It was completely accidental and a great story to tell. To this day, I’ve never been knocked back by any artist about an interview. They make time for you, it’s greatly appreciated.
Any great followers you were astounded checked you out? Bought your Zine?
Not really, everyone who likes the magazine are people I’ve previously approached. There’s a knack to that process also. Patience, sincerity and not being too pushy and trying to kid on you’re their best friend. Having good manners is another. Please and thank you could be used more often by some people, I think!
What was the hardest article to get data for and why was it so important?
The hardest data is always delving into the past of an artist or band, if that makes sense? When you do an interview, the questions have to be perfect or you look silly. So, we tend to approach artists we know and love because you’re halfway there already. We decided to keep the questions down to 8-10 so that we don’t bog the artist down and we were slightly concerned that an interview wouldn’t happen if we asked too many questions. With an online interview, it becomes a waiting game and you need to be patient as these people are very busy. A polite email to ‘nudge’ them is quite acceptable, if worded properly! When the answers arrive, it’s a fantastic feeling!I hope I haven’t digressed on this question, Janet…oops!
Anything you can tell us about your daily routine to stay sane in our current global lockdown? How have your music habits been affected?
In the current climate, I understand how it’s very difficult for many people, it certainly isn’t easy and we must help those who are struggling as best we can. Personally, I’m finding it pretty simple, as I exercise every day for around 40 minutes. This alleviates the pent-up stress we can endure during the lockdown. Luckily, I have a garden to do this and relax in – weather permitting. So, I get up, have breakfast, check the post, make a few phone calls, check the emails, then play some tunes. I then plan the exercise circuit and think about the evening’s meal! I can easily skip lunch, I haven’t the appetite I used to have, so the evening dinner is enjoyed more! My musical habits have obviously been affected as there’s no live music at the moment and emails are continually telling me of more postponements. It’s disheartening, but we need to get on with things and be positive about the future. We will beat Covid-19 and hopefully appreciate things more when we do. I’m still supporting artists by purchasing their material online as I always have. There’ve been great live performances from artists homes to view via Twitter/FB – so enjoyable. Radio 6 (BBC) Music is always on in the background if I don’t have vinyl on and this is my favourite station for picking up new music on.
What blogs or Zines are you obsessed with right now?
John Robb’s blogs on all things music are always brilliant as well as a few others like writers Ian Cusack who writes football/music/cricket, and Joe England’s mag articles. Favourite mag is Paper and Ink by Martin Appleby. There’s plenty out there – keep searching! Oh, and I buy MOJO magazine every month too.
Where can people discover your media or publication?
People can discover Razur Cuts by following us on Twitter @razurcutsmagand Facebook. I do post-outs to anyone who’d like a mag. We’re working towards issue IX as we chat and hopefully it’ll be released in December. We are in Monorail and Love Music, Glasgow as well as local outlets which we advertise as each issue is released – coffee shops and pubs.
Writer/Artist/DIY Fiend as Consumer Questions:
The first record bought?
First record bought was The Glitter Band ‘Goodbye My Love’.
How did you listen to new music when you were young?
I listened to new music by tuning into John Peel each weeknight from 10pm to midnight on BBC Radio 1. He championed punk rock and any new and creative sound that he’d depict as a tune. It’s how I became a lover of music and the genre of Punk to Post Punk. Our local Town Hall in Grangemouth also had bands playing from 1978. These gigs were promoted by Brian Guthrie, elder brother of Robin (Cocteau Twins). As a 15 to16 year old, you can imagine how amazing it was to have bands like Ultravox! Simple Minds, UK Subs, The Rezillos all playing your own little town. Quite a privilege, looking back.
First gig you went to? Who were you with and what did you wear?
My first gig was the aforementioned Rezillos supported by Scars at the same Town Hall. I wore tight jeans (skinnies), baseball boots, plain white tee shirt and a Harrington jacket, this was a bomber style fabric jacket with front zip and tartan lining. I’m so pleased to tell you they’ve now made a triumphant ‘Retro Return’ and I own two!
Favorite bands or artists in your youth?
Stiff Little Fingers, The Stranglers, The Clash, Kate Bush, Scars, The Zones, Ultravox! The Psychedelic Furs and many more. It was an explosion of young people getting up and doing DIY music for themselves and being creative. This scene stuck their fingers up to the establishment and detested the old sixties hippy movement. It was time for change – and it happened. It made me the person I am today. A game changer. The true creativeness was in the lyrical content of the songs as well as the clothes and hairstyles. DIY fanzines exploded onto the scene telling everyone of the new singles and albums newly released. Tony Drayton’s ‘Ripped and Torn’ was fantastic, a home-made fanzine stapled together after being photocopied – an incredible DIY process which is so fondly remembered.
What are your favorite new artists?
I love many new bands and support them as often as I can…Evi Vine, Gnoomes, The Everlasting Yeah, Filthy Tongues, Emily Capell, Sleaford Mods, Vulture Party and The Media Whores.
What books did you read in your formative years, and what are you reading these days?
At the moment I’m reading ‘Ireland The Propaganda War’ by Liz Curtis, then moving onto David Ross’s ‘Last days of Disco’.
My formative years consisted of John Steinbeck’s ‘Of Mice and Men’ and ‘The Winter of our Discontent’ plus ‘Ivanhoe’ by Walter Scott. Oddly enough, when I was young, I used to randomly pick up the dictionary – select words and try to remember their meanings.
I’ve revisited Robert Burns over the last twenty years and ingested the vernacular used in everything he wrote as best I can, as it was written in the 1800’s. A genius.
I’ve also read all of Irvine Welsh’s novels, my favourite being ‘Maribou Stork Nightmares’.
What Twitter or other social media accounts are you hooked on lately?
All of my favourite bands and some humorous ones. ‘Limmy’ and ‘He’s a C***’ are excellent. Writers and poets are especially good on twitter with their turn of phrase. Stephen Watt, Jim Higo, David Ross are all prominent and have become friends of RC.
Favorite music venues?
I’ve always been in love with smaller venues and always will be. There’s an intimacy you cannot buy in those little pokey holes we see our bands in. You’re up close and personal – nothing beats that as a music fan. I love Broadcast, Nice n Sleazy in Glasgow. The Mash House, Leith Depot and the amazing old church Queen’s Hall in Edinburgh. My all-time favourite venue is Glasgow Apollo. The stage was 8” high and had the most amazing atmosphere. The crowd would be from all over Scotland and the bands always got a thunderous reception. There was a stalls area, circle and upper circle – it held around two thousand people and the whole place would virtually bounce as a band delivered their set. Everyone loved that theatre. I wish it was still here today. Again – great memories.
Music venues you are dying to go to?
I’m actually planning on visiting venues around the world, but mainly Europe as I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to retire early, which was last year. I have no preference as to which one because they will all hold a special memory for me as I fondly look back. Once we have a vaccine for Covid-19, I can begin to pick gigs and book hotels and tickets. I was at the Hollywood Bowl last year whilst on holiday with my wife to see Cindy Lauper. That venue was superb and certainly a box-ticker! We had a great music chat to an American couple in the bar area before we entered the arena and we found we had very similar musical tastes. Lovely people who made us feel so welcome.
What would be your fantasy gig if space and time continuum allowed?
Great question! My fantasy gig would be all the bands I’ve mentioned starting with the newer ones building up to the headline act who would be Kate Bush. She’d play everything I love in her catalogue and then personally invite me to interview her…now that IS fantasy land! LOL
If money were no object, who would you go see and where? (If you were the booking agent)
I’ve been so lucky to see so many bands and solo artists and I’m not that big on large scale venues, such as enormo-domes or massive festivals. I’d most probably enjoy seeing a new band in a small place in Berlin, Los Angeles or somewhere where there’s a great underground scene going on. The intimacy, in those places, is for me, what it’s all about. You’re up close and personal – the feeling you get from that is absolutely wonderful. Unbeatable.